Snapdeal Tests Last-Mile Delivery Using Ottonomy IO’s Robots
Ottonomy delivery rovers. (Image: Snapdeal) 

Snapdeal Tests Last-Mile Delivery Using Ottonomy IO’s Robots

Snapdeal is testing last-mile contactless delivery using robots to reduce labour costs, even as people look at ways to avoid contagion during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The online retailer and mobility startup Ottonomy IO LLC have successfully tested the autonomous delivery rovers—the size of a small cooler on wheels, rolling along sidewalks and streets—in Delhi-National Capital Region, according to a statement by Snapdeal. The company said the robot is equipped with a map and the package is sanitised on its way. “The delivery robots were stationed at the entrance of residential societies, wherein the delivery agent scanned a QR code and placed the package inside.”

So far, e-commerce firms have been using robots to move inventory in their vast network of warehouses. Amazon.com Inc. and Postmates Inc. in the U.S. use artificial intelligence to automate several steps from placing an order on a smartphone to receiving a package at the doorstep. In China, too, several companies like Meituan Dianping, JD.com and Ele.me have been piloting autonomous vehicles for delivery.

The interest towards autonomous delivery also comes as people look for contactless delivery to ensure safety amid the pandemic.

“Automating the last-mile delivery process and clubbing it with contactless interaction helps address safety concerns of both shoppers and delivery professionals,” Ritukar Vijay, co-founder of Ottonomy IO said.

The mobility startup, which has built the robot for Snapdeal, uses specialised AI algorithms to navigate crowded areas, and uses machine learning, fuse data from 3D Lidar and cameras to have a robust understanding of the external world. The robot, the company said, can deliver two orders at a time.

“We are investing heavily in AI and machine learning to develop future-oriented capabilities,” a Snapdeal spokesperson said, adding delivery via robots is part of the evolving future of logistics. “We believe that robots will have a unique role to play in e-commerce deliveries in large townships, institutional campuses and other managed residential environments.”

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